how mahal got her groove in the land of 2nd chances


a foot in the door... the work visa, formerly known as a work permit :)

a foot in the door… the work visa, formerly known as a work permit 🙂

IN MANY ways, as you’ve doubtless heard from kabayan communities all over, migrating to a new land is like Life’s second chance.  Lifelong frustrations, broken dreams and failed professions are all swept aside as the prospect of new careers, golden incomes and even a rejuvenated lovelife are all made possible, sometimes at the same time, when one succeeds in carving out a migrant life in the so-called (generically designated) land of milk and honey.

I’m not ungrateful, but after six years here I continue to define myself as an accidental migrant, firstly because my migrant adventure in New Zealand started just as my tourist’s itinerary expired.  More than a few times in this space I’ve had occasion to mention that a generous aunt brought me and a few other relatives to visit my brother in Auckland back in 2007, and during such jaunt my Kinoy bro suggested that, as long as I didn’t have any pressing business back home, I might want to stay behind after the tour group left and try my luck applying for a work permit.

To make a long story short, I got lucky once, twice and yet again.  Because of a “trade” (vocational job) that I picked up, I was able to obtain work permits (now known as work visas) with a supportive employer despite a depressed job market.  I’ve been able to accumulate training and career development that has allowed me to consolidate the modest gains I’ve made as a guest worker.

A second reason I’m an accidental migrant is the nature of my visa: because of my limitations, I don’t have the necessary credentials to realistically see myself as a successful candidate for permanent resident status, so that I’ve been riding the migrant wave on a one-year work visa, which is like being given an amazing car that can bring you anywhere you want (and which runs on ultracheap fuel) but which breaks down one year to the day you’re given such car.  To continue getting around, you need another amazing car, that will (you guessed it) break down in yet another year.  My stay in NZ is contingent on my job, which is in turn dependent on my continued enjoyment of work visa-status.  Because the visa officer every time I apply after every year is someone new, nothing is ever assured.

As you might have guessed, none of this mattered to Mahal, from whom I had been apart for the better part of three years, me coming home only on Christmases and my folks’ 50th wedding anniversary.  Her patience was wearing thin, and not even the fleetingness of a work permit / visa would keep her from joining me in NZ.

The trick was, we had to prove our relationship, as we weren’t married at the time.  Immigration NZ (the counterpart of our Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation) takes a very dim view on ersatz couples who use their “relationship” as a means of getting into the country, as the exercise understandably smacks of fraud and an attempt to abuse the system.  Despite this, thousands upon thousands of applicants use the partnership policy stream to obtain visas into the country.

Just to show you how determined she was, she did the following for the first time: (1) fill up immigration forms invented by probably one of the most meticulous and detail conscious agencies around; (2) submit to stressful interviews from officers keen to know every detail about her life; (3) revisit every place she lived in to compile documentary evidence that she was a law-abiding, upstanding and productive member of the community.

So that by the time a decision had been made regarding her visa application as my partner, just the stress of having gone through the process was drama enough.  But as you might expect, all the trials and tribulations of waiting, waiting and waiting by Mahal to join me in my life as an accidental migrant, upon arrival of that blue-and-white sticker, became worth it.

And just to make the event more memorable, a few days after Mahal arrived in NZ for the first time, a freak tornado visited the town where we lived.  Here’s how it looked:

Since then, Mahal has adjusted to accidental migrant life just as well, if not better than I have, and has incidentally made my life here so much more colorful, meaningful and fulfilling.  She is exceedingly grateful for my helping her get here, little knowing that it is I who have been all the richer.  (Or maybe she does?)

This is why on the third anniversary of her first work permit / visa in NZ, it is worth remembering.  Thanks for joining me here mi amor!

Happy Valentines‘ Day to all!

Thanks for reading!

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7 thoughts on “how mahal got her groove in the land of 2nd chances

  1. Pingback: girl’s night out | YLBnoel's Blog

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